Stormwater Utility Fees
The Stormwater Utility is similar to water or wastewater utilities where a fee is charged for a service. The service of the Stormwater Utility is to handle the customers’ stormwater runoff in the manner of constructing and maintaining the City’s stormwater facilities and watercourses.
Stormwater runoff is the water that flows over the ground as the result of rain, snow melt, hail and sleet. Buildings, streets, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks and patios prevent the water from soaking into the ground. These structures are referred to as impervious surfaces. Runoff is collected by storm sewer infrastructure such as inlets and pipes and ultimately transported to the Arkansas River. As water flows over the ground, it picks up everything in its path, such as sediment, oil, grease, litter and chemicals, taking it all to the river without treatment.
How much is the Fee and what is it for?
The City of Cañon City is mandated by the Federal Government and the State of Colorado to reduce the amount of pollutants in our stormwater discharges as much as possible to protect the quality of the waters in the state. This is a non-funded mandate – meaning the City does not receive any federal or state funds to enable us to meet these regulations.
These fees will pay for minimal maintenance of existing facilities and Clean Water Act compliance. The Clean Water Act is a Federal law that regulates stormwater quality, protecting our streams and rivers. Capital improvement projects are paid for by money that the utility saves over time or may be funded through bonds in the future to be repaid by the fee.
The monthly fee rate is $0.001821 per square foot of impervious surface.
To determine your total fee, the rate is multiplied by the area of impervious surface on your property. Since residential customers are billed once every three months you should multiply that times 3 to calculate your bill.
A tax is a rate or duty, levied each year for the purposes of general revenue, regardless of the benefit accruing to the property or person taxed. Taxes require approval by the public through voting. A utility fee is a charge for a particular service and is a dedicated revenue source. In other words, the stormwater utility fee can only be used for stormwater management and capital improvements. The fee is also applied to otherwise tax-exempt entities such as hospitals, churches, schools, prisons and federally and state-owned properties. Utility fees are not required by the Colorado State Constitution to be put to public vote. A utility fee is a fairer approach for funding our State and Federally mandated stormwater management.
What is impervious surface?
“Impervious surface” means manmade surfaces or covers on or in real property that have decreased the rate of stormwater infiltration into the earth. Some examples of impervious surface are buildings, driveways, patios, sidewalks, parking lots or other hard surfaces.
Why is impervious surface used to calculate the fee?
Studies have concluded that there is a direct correlation between impervious surface and increased runoff and pollutants. To charge for the amount of impervious surface on a property relates to the property owners actual impact to the drainage system.
While some people believe that no stormwater runs off their property into the system, this may be true for smaller storm events; however, during larger storms this would be impossible. Also, water that soaks into the ground may still eventually enter groundwater or migrate into the stormwater system underground. Additionally, we all use the City street system as drivers or recipients of goods and services. This network of impervious surface’s impact must be mitigated as well by us all collectively paying for its management. All residents within the Cañon City limits benefit from the repair and maintenance of the stormwater system and from capital projects which protect our community. Remember that it is not only the quantity of stormwater the City is managing, but also the water quality of the runoff. The programs mandated by the City’s stormwater permit, and funded by the utility fee, help keep the runoff as clean as possible without actual treatment, which benefits everyone.
How is my impervious surface calculated?
Satellite imagery and aerial photography were used to determine and calculate impervious areas initially. Many properties have subsequently been surveyed on-site to update the impervious area for individual parcels.
What do I do if I feel the impervious surface for my property is incorrect? If you feel the square footage of impervious surface for your property is incorrect you may fill out a Stormwater Utility Fee Billing Inquiry Form or contact the Utility Billing Department at 719-269-9011.